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Department of Geography Social Geography and Urban Studies

Urban Studies

  • Student field trip to the Venice Biennale 2022 (Photo J. Ren)

  • Hong Kong (Photo J. Ren)

  • «Mycelial Radio Activation», Taipei Biennale (Photo J. Ren)

What drives urban change? What are the speculative futures that shape cities today? Spanning research about comparative urbanism, public space and the relationships between art and the city, this group is interested in interrogating the theoretical basis for key concepts in urban studies.  

Comparative Urbanism and Epistemic Authorities

Beyond a critique about the parochialism of urban studies, how can comparative urban research employ postcolonial critiques to shape a more global urban studies? This is an ongoing project interrogating the questions around epistemic authority and involves a number of ongoing publications that grapple with the theoretical, methodological, pedagogical and empirical aspects of the question. Some events in 2022 discussing this work include De-colonizing Geography and Environmental Studies Conference, University of Lausanne and Postcolonial Theory and Urban Studies, Zentrum Architektur Zurich. For our methodological and pedagogical work rethinking the position of researcher and researched, see our project website Züri Urban.

Public Space

The gulf between public space and accessible urban space grows. From hostile architecture as reactionary design “solutions” to the significations of digital social spaces for young people, the shrinking or mutating ideas of public space looms for a wide range of urban dwellers. These thesis projects consider the changing nature of public space in relation to urban inequalities and the right to the city. 

  • BSc project “Hostile Architecture: The Restriction of the Right to the City by Silent Agents in Public Space” Jonas Buchmann (2022)
  • MSc project „Weiblichen Jugendlichen im städtischen öffentlichen Raum” Annalena Jäger (ongoing)

Contemporary Biennials and the City

Why do cities with limited resources invest in contemporary art? What do they represent, and to whom? This research explores the significations of the contemporary biennial and was funded in part by the Graduate Research Campus, the Chair for Modern and Contemporary Art, Institute of Art History, Chair for Early Modern Art History, Institute of Art History and Social and Cultural Geography Unit, Department of Geography. Some research and teaching activities:

  • Venice Biennale Modul “Übung mit Exkursion” 13-16 October 2022 More (PDF, 1 MB) 
  • Kulturanalyse jetzt! Ringvorlesung, 10 October 2022 More
  • The Fraught Significations of Contemporary Biennials, Symposium 19-20 May 2022 More

Group leader

Weiterführende Informationen

The art space Superbien! In Berlin, Germany (Picture: Julie Ren)

Comparative Urbanism: From critique to method

Wem gehört der Raum?

Wem gehört der Raum?